Sri Lanka v South Africa ODI - Men's
Sangakkara hoses down politics call
Sri Lanka legend created a frenzy in home country when reports linked him to following in Imran Khan's footsteps and enter politics
13 August 2018, 10:03 PM AEST
Sri Lanka's batting legend Kumar Sangakkara Monday said he had no intention of making a foray into politics after local media reported he was eyeing next year's presidential elections.
Sangakkara's comments came amid a media frenzy comparing him to Imran Khan, the cricketing great who is set to be sworn in as Pakistan's prime minister on Saturday.
"I would like to put to rest speculation and rumour once and for all, confirming that I do not harbour any ambitions for political office," Sangakkara, 40, said in a statement.
"I never have, and, with enormous certainty, I can say I never will."
Had he opted to run for office, it's likely Sangakkara would have enjoyed enormous popularity in the cricket-mad country.
In 2016, Sri Lanka's fervent cricket fans voted Sangakkara the greatest ODI player of all time in a poll run by cricket.com.au, beating out Sachin Tendulkar in the final.
Sri Lanka's ruling coalition as well as the main opposition are yet to name their candidates for next year's presidential election.
Several cricket legends in the country have successfully switched to politics.
Sri Lanka's World Cup winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga is a minister in the current government, while former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya served as a deputy minister after he retired from the international game.
Sangakkara quit Test cricket in August 2015 after aggregating 12,400 runs from 134 matches with 11 double centuries.
The former skipper, considered one of the all-time greats, steered his side to the final of the 2011 World Cup before losing to India.
Sangakkara's statement came as the country celebrated victory in the fifth ODI against Sri Lanka, with Akila Dananjaya pickingup six scalps and widespread tributes in a massive 178-run victory.
South Africa claimed the series 3-2 but Dananjaya's performance established the pint-sized 24-year-old as one of the most threatening spinners on the international circuit.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews hit 97 off 97 balls as his side made 8-299 off their 50 overs. Dananjaya then ripped through the South Africa batting line-up at Colombo's R. Premadasa stadium.
The tourists were all out for 121 two balls short of 25 overs. Dananjaya's 6-29 made him one of just four spin bowlers with two six-wicket hauls in ODI cricket.
South African skipper Quinton de Kock made 54, with seven fours and a six, before he was bowled by Dananjaya.
"Akila knows what he's doing with the ball. It's hard to take on someone like this when he has so many variations up his sleeve," said de Kock.
"We have batted well against him in this series, but today he bowled really well."
Dananjaya's spin accounted for four of South Africa's top five batsmen – de Kock, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks and Heinrich Klaasen. Apart from the captain, they managed just 23 runs between them.